Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The right stuff, but what about technique?

I was at a panel discussion event the other night, off to the side was the official event photographer who was working the event. I couldn't help but notice him, not because he was disruptive but simply because I wanted to observe another photog at work.

Now what I way say in the rest of this post may be a critique, but the important thing is quality result. I was not able to see any of the results - and they may have been great, but if you see yourself described below and you are NOT happy with your image sharpness then my observations may be helpful.

The other thing to highlight is that there is rarely only one way to do something. So if you have another technique that works, please share.

1. Hand holding a 70-200 f/2.8 lens or any other lens with a tripod foot.
This is what this kind of lens looks like:

Canon 70-200 F/2.8 L IS II

The photog in question had the foot hanging down where the tripod would be. As a result he was awkwardly weaving his fingers around the foot, often holding the weight on his finger tips.

Ideally you want to carry the weight of this lens at the base of your palm. So loosen the ring and swing it around to the side or top and tighten. The lens barrel can now be nicely cradled in your palm. The tripod foot can easily be swung back into position if needed.

2. Proper posture.

Our mystery photog had glue on his feet. He would often zoom with his neck meaning his weight is way off centre. There was no major restrictions on where he could have stood, in fact he would often take a step forward take a n image and then zoom with his neck backwards. He just did not use his feet. So unless you have some constraint on your motion and your zoom range on your lens always move your body so that you are centered and stable.

3. Use your body for support
The final thing I observed is that the photog supported his lens with his hand but would flare his elbow out to the side. This means he would be easily susceptible to muscle fatigue. He would likely be better off to drop your elbow straight down and rest it on your rib cage. I suppose if your heart was really jumping our of your rib cage it might be better to float your elbow away from ribs, but generally you would be better of to use it as a rest. Don't forget to hold your breath while actually taking the picture. For some further tips on this check out this video from Joe McNally:

Today's Assignment: Grab your body and put on your biggest lens. Practice different techniques for holding it, both in horizontal and vertical positions. Don't forget to control your breathing as you press the shutter.

Advanced Assignment: Do this with every lens you have and also try a variety of stances like knelling down low, waist level , etc.
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